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Wally Skalij /Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Ratings for the Olympic Games opening ceremony were down 36% compared to 2016, according to preliminary numbers from NBC Universal. 

Why it matters: The figures for the Tokyo Games event mark the lowest audience for an Olympics opening ceremony event in over three decades, per Reuters.

  • Roughly $1 billion has been spent on advertising around the Olympics. Ratings are the only real metric marketers can use to justify much of that spend.

By the numbers: About 17 million people watched the event on broadcast and streaming, according to NBC. Early broadcast numbers suggest some 10 million people watched the event on linear TV.

  • By comparison, about 26.5 million people and 27.8 million people tuned in to the Olympic opening events in Rio in 2016 and Pyeongchang in 2018, respectively.

Yes, but: Some of this is out of NBC's hands. Without fans in the stands, the content may not be as compelling to viewers this year as it has been in the past.

Be smart: The Olympics isn't just about advertising for NBC, it's also the company's big streaming debut.

  • A lot of the network's success this year will be determined by whether it can get people to subscribe to its streaming service. NBC is putting some of the most popular Olympics sporting events exclusively on Peacock this year.

The big picture: The opening ceremony ratings decline isn't shocking, given the general decline in linear TV ratings that's been expedited during the pandemic.

  • Ratings for major sports events, like the Super Bowl and World Series, were also remarkably low this past year, as were ratings for all of the major award shows.
  • Olympic opening ceremony viewership has also been in decline for years.

Go deeper: Full Axios coverage

Go deeper

Activists disrupt Beijing Winter Games flame lighting ceremony

Three protesters display a Tibetan flag and a "No genocide games" sign at the flame-lighting ceremony in Greece on Monday, protesting the Beijing Winter Olympics. Photo: Aris Messinis/AFP via Getty Images

Three activists disrupted the flame-lighting ceremony for the Beijing Winter Olympics on Monday, protesting human rights violations in China.

Why it matters: There have been widespread calls to boycott the Games, including a coalition of 180 human rights groups that cites China's treatment of the Uyghur Muslims and Tibetans. However, a boycott is highly unlikely, per Axios' Jeff Tracy.

Jan. 6 chair: Panel will ask Ivanka Trump to cooperate with investigation

Former President Trump and daughter Ivanka Trump walk to Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House on January 4, 2020 in Washington, DC. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The chair of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol riot said Thursday that the panel is soon going to ask Ivanka Trump to cooperate with the investigation.

Driving the news: "You will anticipate the committee inviting some people to come talk to us," Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-Miss.) told reporters in the Capitol, adding, "not lawmakers right now — Ivanka Trump."

56 mins ago - World

Putin is challenging Ukraine's "right to exist," Blinken says

Blinken (L) speaks in Berlin on Thursday. Photo: Kay Nietfeld - Pool/Getty

Secretary of State Tony Blinken put the stakes of a Russian invasion of Ukraine in stark terms on Thursday, saying Vladimir Putin's threat is a direct challenge to Ukraine's "right to exist" as an independent country and a democracy.

What he's saying: “There’s been a lot of speculation about President Putin’s true intentions, but we don’t actually have to guess. He’s told us, repeatedly. He’s laying the groundwork for an invasion because he doesn’t believe Ukraine is a sovereign nation," Blinken said during a speech in Berlin.